Dated government processes can be exhausting when trying to bring about change. But CIOs are uniquely equipped to transform long-running internal processes to build liquidity in government operations.
Gone are the days when government CIOs were the boxes and wires, standard-type pocket protectors. They are business leaders and big-picture thinkers who must navigate governors, legislatures, agency heads, and the public.
Contrary to popular belief, soft skills are more valuable in a government environment than the “hard” technical skills often associated with a CIO. The ability to communicate complex concepts enables these leaders to develop governments to market conditions and build consensus on solutions across a wide range of stakeholders.
As a state CIO stated in the NASCIO State CIO As Communicator survey, “The most critical tasks before a state CIO do not require technical skills. Successful implementation stems from outstanding and visionary leadership.”
When asked about the most important success factors for CIOs to achieve results, NASCIO found that the most important responses were: 1) the organization’s vision and strategy; 2) security and risk management; 3) Customer Service and Relationship Management Agency; 4) IT governance of the enterprise; 5) Aligning IT to create value.
Although government CIOs work in environments that are overburdened with legacy processes and under investment, there are many opportunities for improvement. Skilled executives can learn from our epidemiological experiences to break down the processes that need to be broken and create environments that welcome change and innovation.
Create a constantly evolving culture
Governments are not built to change quickly, but technology is constantly changing. CIOs can simplify the government’s ability to purchase technology services by bringing more offers within procurement walls.
Using tactics such as convenience contracts, which qualifies multiple service providers for a specific service, or a solution that allows agencies to choose between providers without an RFP process, can enable a market for offerings tailored to the needs of an agency’s business. By working with agencies and understanding the IT market, CIOs can help broker the right combination of services and technologies to support the agency’s mission. Helping to arrange, organize and coordinate services from various IT providers helps enable a culture of iteration that understands that technology is always changing.
Public sector leaders are on a mission to make customer engagement essential in the halls of government. For years, commercial organizations have measured customer data, buying patterns, and net promoter scores, all in the name of targeting the right products to the right customers at the right time.
However, historically governments have not viewed their services from a customer first perspective. State and local governments provide services designed to promote a functioning society and to protect our individual rights. But the priority was often to provide a service rather than evaluating the customer’s experience with that service.
To continue building trust in government, government officials must find ways to weather the hype of social media and the vicissitudes of daily life to reach the masses, deliver services, and provide fact-based information that individuals can rely on.
CIOs are leaders in the move toward more participatory government. CIOs can improve dialogue between government and its constituents by using technologies that reach individuals with personalized content that is relevant to them, or by bringing people to digital platforms that allow their voices to be heard and their input measured.
The government is heading in this direction. For example, the USDA is developing measures for participation. It recently created its version of the Net Promoter Score, publishing a survey asking farmers for feedback on the agency’s services and how those services could be improved. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan laid out a plan to ramp up customer service training and establish performance metrics to track progress.
We are at the beginning of a new era of “engaged government”. CIOs will drive this evolution by listening to evaluators, deploying technologies designed to engage with people, using data to measure inputs, and delivering results relevant to an individual’s needs.